The Chicago Blackhawks revealed why they recalled Brandon Pirri on Saturday, as he’ll spell Michal Handzus against the woeful Buffalo Sabres tonight.
There’s some excitement in the Blackhawks fan base about the young forward.
Pirri, 22, expected to make the team out of training camp but was a surprise cut. Even so, he provided the Chicago Sun-Times with the sort of quote that makes you think Handzus has been whispering in his ear.
“As a 19-year-old, it’s sexy to put up a lot of points,” Pirri said. “As an older guy, you kind of realize that offense comes from good defense. That’s something that I focused on and it’s shown in my numbers.”
(Cue audience snickering at an “older guy” being 22 …)
Head coach Joel Quenneville said that Handzus isn’t injured, he’s just getting rest on a back-to-back, although the feeling is that it wasn’t that short of a scratch, either.
The battle between Chicago’s AHL/NHL tweeners could be interesting to follow this season, as Quenneville called the trio of Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin “comparable.”
During this period of his career, Nail Yakupov seems like one of those all-or-nothing goal scorers.* So far, it’s been all-nothing, so Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins decided to scratch him for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
One can understand why Eakins benched the 20-year-old. He doesn’t have a goal or an assist in four games so far this season, and he’s not the kind of defensive specialist who will dominate play even when he isn’t lighting up the scoreboard.
Yakupov tied Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie scoring lead with 31 points last season, including 17 goals. Even then, he was a little streaky, scoring a nice five points in seven games in January, then being limited to 11 games in 27 games in the middle of the season before an explosive end (15 points in 14 games) to finish 2013.
This might be a good thing for the fiery Russian, as long as it doesn’t hurt his self-confidence. (He doesn’t seem lacking in that category, generally speaking.)
* – The ones who accomplish the rare feat of scoring more goals than assists.
The Phoenix Coyotes won on Friday, but they’re still shaking up their roster a bit after a rocky start. They added a little versatility and a lot of veteran experience on Saturday by signing Jeff Halpern to a one-year, two-way deal.
The 37-year-old has 907 regular season and 39 playoff games under his belt. He’s probably best known for his time with the Washington Capitals, but he split last season between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.
Halpern seems to fit Phoenix’s style as a defense-first, experienced forward. It’s unclear how much time he’ll spend in the NHL vs. AHL, but maybe the team thinks he can replace some of what Boyd Gordon took with him to Edmonton.
AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan notes that the team is already at the 23-man limit at the NHL level, so a roster move would be necessary if the Coyotes would want Halpern to play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.